Sweet victory for the Horn brothers at Lichtenburg 400 rally
Maintaining a positive outlook can even influence the outcome of cross country motor races – just ask Johan and Werner Horn who scored a come from behind win in Class T in the Production Vehicle category at the Lichtenburg 400 on 31 March and 1 April.
It added to their hometown win on the Nkomazi 450 last year, but the opening round of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) did not start off on the right foot for the Mpumalanga brothers. Despite having the latest specification V8 engine in the Malalane Toyota Hilux, the brothers found themselves in 11th position after the 50-kilometre sprint on Friday to determine grid positions.
“We had an electrical problem and every time we engaged sixth gear the car would cut out. It led to a stop/go qualifying race but it could have been worse. Had the qualifying race been over a longer distance we might have been in trouble but, as it was, we were only two minutes and two seconds behind the leading car,” said Werner.
With their service crew confident they had sorted out the electrical problem, the brothers held a quick conference before race. It was decided a policy of maximum attack was their best option.
“We had nothing to lose. Two minutes in a 340-kilometre cross country race is negligible, and we decided to push as hard as the conditions would allow us. At the same time we were conscious of the fact that we could not afford mistakes on the extremely rocky, tight and tricky route that had a little bit of everything.” said Johan.
The only problem the Horns encountered on the first of the 170-kilometre loops that made up the race was being stuck in the dust behind a Special Vehicle competitor.
“It was frustrating,” said Werner. “It is part and parcel of cross country racing, but on a route that did not produce many overtaking opportunities it could have compromised our race. We understand that the Special Vehicle crews are in a race of their own, but the incident cost us valuable time.”
The second loop went off smoothly with no problems. At the finish the Horn brothers were just over three minutes behind Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie in a FIA Class car, and around five minutes clear of Class T runners-up Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer in the Ford NWM Puma Lubricants Ranger.
“It was the perfect end to the weekend and a positive outlook played a major part in our win,” said Johan. It was a demanding event but we are up and running in the Class T championship, although there is an awful long way to go and Class T is hugely competitive. But, on another positive note, we can now go into the next race on a high but consistency is going to play a role in the championship.”
The next race on the SACCS calendar is the Battlefields 400 in KwaZulu-Natal on 12 and 13 May. Have a look at the video below at some of the action.